Friday, July 21, 2017

A Quilt For Cristina

"She smote the ground and a quilt appeared." No, of course that's not how it happens. There is so much thought that goes into the design and execution of any creative project. And when that project is for someone special, every part of the creative process becomes even more deliberate. For years I have coached my little neighbor Cristina in quilting. She started as a 7th grader and knocked out her first quilt. She had the knack of going to my fabric cabinets and sniffing out my best and most prized fabrics. But then she would do such neat things with them! Check out the index of my blog under "Cristina" for various bits of history. One summer during high school she came down and helped me with a little workshop for my granddaughter and one of her friends. During Cris's senior year of high school she and her friend Katia both made Trips Around the World. Cristina now has a degree in fine arts from Iowa State and also has a certificate in Graphic Design. Her eye has always scared me a bit because mine is so unsophisticated. While she was getting her Graphic Arts certificate, she lived at her parents' home and came down here to make a couple of quilts. One of the quilts she did had this Moroccan Tile vibe, and I could tell she really liked this sort of aesthetic.

Janet Clare designed Aubade:  A Song to the Dawn, a beautiful line of fabrics.  And I was in love.  I bought a jelly roll and a mini-charm pack.  Along with a neutral background and a darker background, I knew I wanted to use these in a quilt for Cristina.  But here's where it gets tricky.  For years I've been suggesting Cristina go improv and do interesting things - things like negative space and varying scale.  So I knew I couldn't do just any old thing for Cristina's quilt.  While I have coached her with her quilt-making and maybe helped finish a quilt or two and have made her various little bags and totes, I have never - in our 15-year friendship - made her a quilt.

This was the first designs. I like how the blocks are of varying scale and thought that a navy might make a great sashing.  But not for Cris - she has a lighter eye.  And despite the varying scale, this design left me cold.

And then I remembered a picture I cut out from the Keepsake Quilting catalogue.  I like the visual interest of connecting blocks to one another, almost like game pieces.  And the design for Cristina's quilt began to take shape.  I didn't want it to be matchy-matchy, and I think the varying scale of the blocks and the little connector bits helped with that.
The back of the quilt
Cristina is a ditherer. Wait - there's a better way to say that: she is deliberate. I am not. I have my mother's subway efficiency - I get things done but they may not always be the most attractive. As Cristina was "dithering" over some part of the design process, I would be on the other side of the studio muttering things like: Just get it done! Be bloody, bold, and resolute.And so now I had to take my own advice.  The front of the quilt is pretty tame - I love it and I think Cristina's will, too.  But it's tame.  So I wanted the back to be improv-ish.  And I love how it turned out. 
The quilt and its various layers on the basting table.

The quilting is all straight-line with a walking foot.  This part of the process is one I find very satisfying.  Every line of stitching is soothing.
Despite our 41-year age difference, we both enjoy our friendship with one another.  Her move out of the neighborhood to Pilsen marks a definite change and end of an era.  She has her own studio and workspace (really, her loft is terrific), she has a big-girl job, and she has a rock-solid boyfriend.  This quilt celebrates Cristina's full entry into adulthood and marks the end of a very special time in our lives.  There are very few people I love more than Cristina.


Karen T said...

Lucky both of you, to have nourished such a friendship! The quilt is beautiful. I like the blues. It is a very calming piece. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Jocelyn Thurston said...

What a sweet friendship/partnership. Now that I grapple with quilting myself, I know the kind of skill it takes to get all those corners and straight lines straight. I think this is beautiful.